For those that don’t like reading lengthy, birth stories, feel free to scroll all the way down to the bottom for photos from our time in the hospital.
If you’re reading this, you probably know that we welcomed our son, Isaiah, into the world near the end of November. If you were following along on our Instagram or Facebook pages, you’ll also know that Isaiah took his sweet time arriving and was 12 days overdue. To say were were a bit anxious and impatient might be an understatement. Now I’m the one who is overdue because this blog post should have been written 2 months ago, but I finally had the time to sit down and recount the days leading up to Isaiah’s birth, and goodness, it’s a doozy. Below is my account of Isaiah’s birth story. I hope you enjoy reading through this small glimpse of our lives on November 24, 2017.
We had found out pretty early in my pregnancy that we were expecting. In fact, if I look back at the dates, I first took a pregnancy test when I was 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant. When you find out that early in a pregnancy, it can tend to make the remaining 8 months of the pregnancy seem like an eternity. For me, that was definitely the case; I feel like I was pregnant for all of 2017. And realistically, I kind of was. Early February to the end of November; there were only 2 months of the year that I was not pregnant. Goodness.
Our Little One’s expected due date was November 12th and I was ready. I had reduced my hours at my day job to make sure I could finish all of our editing for his arrival. Michael & I had three weddings in September, three in October and one in November (8 days before my due date that, yes, I even shot). My greatest fear was going into labor prior to my due date and not being able to finish our client’s galleries. Well, not only did I finish all of our editing before his arrival, but I was actually able to turn around our last 4 weddings in ONE weeks time. Combine my inability to sleep past 5:30am with my motivation to finish the galleries and add in anxiousness that our Little One could arrive ANY moment and you’ve got a determined soon-to-be momma. I was truly taking advantage of every single second of the day to get everything done that I could.
My official last day of work was November 3rd, leaving me just about a week to complete my long list of to-do’s before our Little One was supposed to arrive. I was in overdrive. Running around the house cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, sending emails, etc. I was doing ANYTHING I could think of to prepare before he arrived. I felt like I was on a timer. How much could I get done in an hour, in two, in three? The answer was A LOT. I felt so accomplished when I finally made it through my long to-do list. I could breathe and sit back and relax.
So, now what?
Then the waiting process truly began. Michael and I woke up every morning saying, “this could be the day you call me, saying you’re in labor” and going to bed saying, “this could be the last night we sleep just the two of us.” In those last days, it felt like the last 9 months of the pregnancy went by faster than these remaining days of the pregnancy did.
We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on November 7th and even went to Virginia Beach for dinner. We almost hesitated to go so far from our home, knowing that I could go into labor at any moment. We made it through dinner and didn’t have to scare any waitresses by screaming, “My water just broke!” though it didn’t stop the restaurant workers from looking at me like they needed to have plan ready just in case. Although it had been fun to tell people who asked when I was due that I was, “due any day now” just to watch their face, I truthfully didn’t want to have a story that involved me going into labor in a public place.
Of course, I had been told all along that “every baby is different” and “they come when they are ready.” Little did I know that our Little One had no real intention of ever leaving the warm, coziness of my womb. Here we were, a week and a few days past my due date and we had to make a decision. Do we risk going too far past my due date and put our Little One at a higher risk of meconium aspiration or do we induce even though that was the opposite of what I wanted and it doesn’t seem that he’s ready to come out?
See, I had dreams of doing a natural birth. No induction. No drugs. Nothing. I wanted, and had prayed for, a beautiful, natural birth where we could finally meet our Little One the way that God had intended birth to be experienced, felt and endured. I had studied the Bradley Method and felt as prepared as I possibly could be on this side of delivering a baby. I was ready and even excited to experience natural labor for the first time.
Although I had a great plan, that was not His plan.
With the advisement of my midwife and doctors office, we made the decision to schedule my induction to begin on November 23rd, Thanksgiving night, at 41 weeks, 5 days pregnant.
After enjoying a wonderful dinner with our families, Michael and I made our way to the hospital at 6pm. We got checked in, made our way to a delivery room, began the induction process via foley bulb and we settled in for the night by enjoying a few episodes of The Office on our laptop before going to sleep.
The next morning came I was 4 centimeters dilated after the foley bulb came out, my water was broken around 8am and they started the pitocin shortly after. As expected, the contractions began and I was officially in early labor and on my way to active labor by 9am. After studying the Bradley Method for months, my breathing was steady and rehearsed. The nurses even commented about it and asked if I had taken a Lamaze class. I had my husband, my mom, my mother-in-law and my dad all in the delivery room with me for a good portion of my early labor. If you had asked me prior to that morning if I wanted anyone in the room except for Michael, I would have told you no. However, their support that day was everything for me and they played a huge role in keeping me focused and making me as comfortable as I could be.
After hours of contractions that were increasing in intensity and duration, the pain was beginning to get the best of me. I felt mentally prepared for natural contractions, but pitocin contractions were a whole other ball game. Michael, my mom, and my mother-in-law were all doing their best to support me while I went through aggressive contractions, most of which were strongest in my back. (My poor husband massaged my back with all his might for a total of 10 hours. He was truly amazing.) After going into back-to-back-to-back contractions that were lasting 60 seconds a piece, I finally caved and asked for pain medication.
I don’t recall what they gave me, but as soon as it hit my bloodstream, I felt loopy. Instead of reducing the pain of the contractions, it basically made my upper half feel like it was a second body, leaving my lower half to continue to feel the intensity of the contractions and my upper half to breathe easily. It was an odd sensation.
This next part is recounted by Michael because, as I said, I was not myself:
“Our nurse came in to check on Chels as she routinely did, but this time she paused when looking at the monitor. Although I was focused on Chels at the time, I remember noticing her face while she looked at the screen. She walked out and came back in minutes later with the doctor. It was then that I realized that something was wrong.”
When my doctor came in, he asked me to roll over to my left side and then my right. After rotating back a forth a few times, he said, “Okay, the baby’s heart rate is dropping; we have to do an emergency c-section.”
My heart sank.
Our Little One’s heart rate is dropping? Emergency c-section? Even in my pain medication high, I quickly realized that things got a lot more serious than I ever anticipated them being.
This was not the plan. None of this was what we had planned for. I didn’t know how to react in the moment and for Michael, he was entering into a husband’s nightmare.
“Everything happened so fast. One moment, the doctor is saying Little One’s heart rate is dropping and the next moment, Chels was being prepped for surgery and wheeled out of the room. My world began to collapse I had to grasp the reality of the situation, but I was frozen. I quickly made up my mind that if I lost either Chels or the baby, I would be a bitter man.”
Amidst the chaos, my mom put her hand on me and on Michael and began to pray, asking God to protect me and the baby. Moments later, I was wheeled into the operating room.
Once in the operating room, everyone was talking at once. They were moving me from the delivery room bed to the operating table and talking and prepping and moving at a speed that I couldn’t grasp in my mental state. My doctor was asking me questions that I didn’t know how to answer and all I could do was pray.
Moments later, the nurse watching our Little One’s monitor said the words I had prayed to hear: “Baby’s heart rate is steady.”
Glory to God in the Highest.
After a few minutes of watching the monitor to ensure that our Little One’s heart rate was in fact steady, Michael was brought back into the operating room and my doctor asked if we wanted to go ahead and proceed with the c-section so we could see our Little One sooner. At this point, I had been in labor for close to 8 hours and most people would probably say, “yeah, go for it.” But I still aspired to have my baby as naturally as I could, so having a c-section was not in the plan. I wanted to feel my contractions. I wanted to deliver my baby the way God intended it.
So we declined the c-section and I was wheeled back into the delivery room to go back on pitocin and back to strong contractions.
Around 7pm, my doctor came back in to check my progression and I was still 4 centimeters. 4 centimeters. As in, the same place I was at 7am that morning, before I started pitocin, labored, contracted, almost had an emergency c-section. Only 4 centimeters in a 10 hour period of time.
To say that I felt defeated in that moment was an understatement.
After much encouragement from my doctor, Michael and I talked through going through with the c-section. It was not what we wanted and not what we planned, but after no progression after all of the HARD contractions I had endured, it looked like c-section was the only way we were going to meet our Little One. We prayed about it and both felt at peace about the hard decision we had to make.
I was given an epidural and prepped for surgery within two hours and wheeled back just after 9pm. After lots of pulling and tugging (tmi) for what seemed like an eternity, we finally heard the sound we had been anticipating for almost 10 months.
A baby’s cry that bounced off the walls of the operating room and filled our ears.
At 9:39pm on Friday, November 24th, we welcomed our Little One into the world.
Hallejuah! Lord, you have saved our Little One!
And then the tears began to fall.
Now if you remember, we still didn’t know the sex of our Little One. We had asked the doctors and nurses to allow Michael to announce it for the first time and they happily complied. Although we were told that our doctor almost spilled the beans, Michael was the one to announce the news we had been waiting so long to know.
“IT’S A BOY!”
A little boy. We have a son!
After what seemed like another eternity, I finally got to see his face. His sweet, little face. The face I had been longing to see for almost 10 months, but really, my entire life. The face of my child. After hearing my voice, he opened his eyes to look right at me as I still laid on the operating table. This was a moment I knew I would never forget.
While they stitched me up, Michael got to go over with the nurses to where they were weighing our “Little Man.” He was crying and crying, and then Michael said, “hey, little man!” and he stopped. He recognized Michael’s voice instantly and even opened his eyes to try to see him.
So many happy tears.
The rest of the night occurred as expected. They wheeled me back into the delivery room where we got to stay for another night and they brought our Little Man in to be with us. Michael went out to the waiting room to share the news that it was a boy and it was welcomed by more happy tears and lots of cheering. After an hour to ourselves, our dear family that had waited so long to see him finally got a glimpse of Little Man before they headed home for the night. Although the nurses had told us that he might be groggy and sleepy after the epidural and the c-section, our Little Man could not have been more alert. His eyes were open from the start and stayed open while family visited. Although he had taken a long time to arrive, it seemed that our Little Man was pretty excited to finally meet us and he stayed awake and alert so he could do so.
We found out later that the likely reason that his heart rate dropped is because he had the cord wrapped around his throat. Though it’s pretty normal for the cord to be lightly wrapped around once, my assumption is that when my contractions were at their strongest, he was feeling them too and it hugged him and the cord a little too tight, causing the cord to cut off his breathing and his heart rate to slow. Would his heart rate have dropped if I never had to endure medically induced contractions? My honest guess is no, but of course, only God knows.
Because we didn’t know the sex of our Little One, we hadn’t completely decided on a name yet. We had a short list of boy names and girl names and agreed that we would decide when we saw him or her. The next morning, it was time to make a decision on a name. Not only was the administrative worker supposed to be coming to our room any time (and literally walked in 5 minutes after we decided on one), but we obviously knew that “Baby Rowlands” could not go nameless for much longer.
After going back and forth between the two names we thought we had narrowed it down to, we kept reading down the short list we had kept on my phone and read, “Isaiah.” Though it was not in the running prior to that morning, we were suddenly giving it a second look.
Early in the pregnancy, we had received really sound advice from Michael’s parents that we should choose a name with a significant meaning, rather than just choosing a name out of a baby book. If you are a Christian or know much about how Biblical names were given, you know that every name is chosen specifically for each individual based on their character. After seeing how each of the Rowlands’ children had developed into the meaning of their names, this was advice that we welcomed.
We did a quick Google search of the meaning of Isaiah and this is what we found:
“From the Hebrew name יְשַׁעְיָהוּ (Yesha’yahu) meaning “YAHWEH is salvation”.
Yahweh is salvation. God is salvation. God saves. God SAVED Isaiah.
Without anymore conversation about it, we knew that our Little One, our Little Man, was to be named Isaiah. Although we’d like to think we chose his name, it was chosen for him by God.
After three days in the hospital, many visits from family and friends and too many check-in’s from the nurses, we finally got to go home with our Isaiah Joseph. The first few days were a shock to us as brand new parents, but we’ll save that for another blog post. Thankfully, we have the most amazing family (namely my mother and mother-in-law who are literally “God sent”) that supported us and helped us so much during our first few weeks at home as we transitioned. We really couldn’t have done it without them.
Without further adieu, here are some photos we’d like to share of Isaiah’s arrival into this world. Enjoy!
Thank you God for saving our Isaiah Joseph.
Michael & Chelsea